If you adopted a furry friend during COVID, you’re not alone. Pet adoptions skyrocketed during the pandemic, and for good reason. As clinical studies suggest, having a pet does wonders for our mental health, reducing levels of the stress hormone cortisol and lifting our moods.
With the easing of the COVID-19 pandemic many of us are back to work or school, which means that our pets may be experiencing separation anxiety or other symptoms. Fortunately, we may have an option from the hemp and cannabis plants: Pet CBD.
If you read our cannabis blog you probably know that CBD is often sought out to help reduce stress and tame anxiety in humans. But the list of potential CBD benefits for dogs and cats is just as long: From soothing aging joints to potentially quelling seizures and—anecdotally at least—imparting a gentle sense of calm. That’s because all mammals (and many other creatures) have an endocannabinoid system, the same bodily system we have to make use of the active compounds in cannabis and hemp (like THC and CBD).
CBD might be just as good for our four-legged friends as it is for us. If you’re interested in helping your dog or cat manage this potentially destabilizing transition, this post is for you…and for them!
How Can CBD Give Dogs Help with Anxiety? The Science
As you’re probably aware, much of marijuana’s healing power comes from its cannabinoids, a family of natural plant compounds that can be called the plant’s “major active ingredients.” The list includes THC and CBD, in addition to a large number of minor cannabinoids (that may in fact turn out to have major medical potential).
THC is the principal and most abundant cannabinoid, and the one responsible for marijuana’s euphoric “high.” CBD is being investigated for a long list of therapeutic effects, such as reducing pain and inflammation, fighting anxiety and insomnia, and reducing the instances of certain types of seizures.
Compared with THC, CBD offers a much different experience of psychoactivity, sometimes described as a gentle cerebral “buzz.” This makes it well suited for those who shouldn’t be exposed to THC. Children, for one, as well as our pets.
If pet CBD sounds a little odd, let’s revisit the topic of cannabinoids and how they impart their effects. Cannabinoids interact with our bodies through the endocannabinoid system (or the ECS), one of our crucial regulatory networks. And as it turns out, all animals—even invertebrates—have one! That’s why the CBD benefits for dogs and cats are just as potentially compelling as they are for their owners.
One study on CBD and canine arthritis, for instance, found that the cannabinoid offers significant pain relief with no side effects. Though we should point out that one study on CBD’s anxiolytic (or anti-anxiety) effects in dogs was inconclusive. While it confirmed CBD’s safety, it didn’t show any significant anxiolytic effects for the test subjects.
When it comes to CBD for our feline friends, much less research has been conducted as yet. CBD has been demonstrated as being safe and well-tolerated in cats, and initial research is showing that cats and dogs seem to metabolize CBD differently.
Still, given the growing body of pet owner-reported evidence, a great many of us find that CBD helps pets feel calm and collected with separation anxiety and other issues begin to rear their head.
CBD Benefits for Dogs and Cats: Best Practices
If you’re planning to use CBD products for pets day-to-day general wellness, consider a product that is completely free of THC. While some pet owners might imagine their pets would enjoy the psychoactivity of THC, remember that they lack the frame of reference their owners do. When pets ingest cannabis containing THC, they can find the experience disorienting and even frightening.
THC can offer therapeutic benefits to animals who have severe conditions or illnesses, but their sensitivity (and therefore their required dosages) are far lower than for humans, and veterinarians suggest that pets are much more sensitive to cannabinoids in general. High doses of THC can lead to toxicity in pets.
That’s why we advise pet owners to start with CBD-only cannabis products to ensure the safest and gentlest treatment for your pet, and to always consult with your vet. Be mindful of the ingredients, too, as both cats and dogs may have sensitivities to ingredients in products made for humans.
Do you have any other questions about how to use pet CBD or other general cannabis questions? Just reach out! We’re always happy to help.